Perhaps you have seen this cartoon being shared around Instagram lately. A few readers brought it to my attention, and even though it was originally published on November 20, 2006, in The New Yorker, the sentiment of what many have either felt or hope to feel when they travel to France is simply conveyed. But perhaps you, like me, have interpreted their travels to France, or to any destination away from home which has brought them deep satisfaction, in a different way.
As of late, my travels abroad over the past year (here and here) have found me enabled to be my most true self. A self that lets go, is much more present and calm as I trust that yes, things have worked out and will work out, and there is no need to expedite the journey. In other words, relax and just be where you have worked so hard to travel to.
Now initially, one might argue, well, sure you felt more at ease and comfortable being yourself while traveling to France or England (in my case – list your destinations here as well), you didn’t have the responsibilities that are present when you are at home or at work. This is a fair point, but I refuse to accept that we cannot learn something about this exceptional contentment we experience on our travels and transport it home with us in some fashion.
For instance, as I shared today, my brain was more exhausted than I realized due to factors outside of my daily life, and so it was my travels that brought this exhaustion to my attention, and thus, my determination to not let it reach this state again with the help of new routines regarding taking in the news and information differently in any given day.
I must admit, each morning upon arriving in the states, I awake so dreadfully early (and I love waking up early – but 2 or 3 am is too early for me) that my mind is doing somersaults of configurations trying to solve this question – how to welcome home the “Shannon” that I find such peace being when I step away from my daily life of worrying about outcomes, checking my finances, tending to my social schedule – when I can squeeze it in, etc.. The other parts of my daily life in Bend (being with my dogs, living next to nature, playing in the kitchen, reading the many books, newspapers, visiting my favorite local shops, bakeries and markets, and coming up with ideas to share on the blog and podcast) are what I want to revel more in, to celebrate more often. And so, as it is frequently the case, I assess. I take an afternoon or a morning, and I examine what is it that is causing the worry when I am home, and evaporates when I travel?
The key for me is to refrain from dwelling too much on the assessment. Yes, assess, put it on paper, and then take action.
I was listening to episode #16 of Courage & Clarity recently, and the guest shared the key to finding inspiration is to take action. The action need not be something directly tied to what you are trying to find inspiration for, but by simply doing something – perhaps something new, something that distracts the mind, it will allow your mind to pop with ideas that you couldn’t see or know if you were to have sat and waited for them to occur.
So here’s my challenge to you, as well as to myself, if you read this cartoon and thought, in some way, you could relate: (1) quickly assess what changes to lighten the stress, the worry, the aspects of your personality that you don’t feel are either authentic or your best self, happen when you travel to your dream destination; and then (2) take action to keep as many of those changes in tact when you return.
Sometimes it’s the defaults that we have unconsciously accepted that we come to recognize when we travel that we just cannot decipher when we are inside the bubble of life at home (episode #218 of the podcast discussed just this topic), but sometimes it is the realization that we worry about outcomes that we have no control over which ratchet up our stress levels (read this post about 20 ways to banish worry and this post about 10 things to stop worrying about). For instance, we cannot predict the future, we cannot know when the dream job offer will be made, when the economy will shift or whether the new employee will be easy to work with. The only things we can control are our response and our preparedness. And with preparedness is clarity of the direction we wish to travel.
I was speaking with a dear friend today at the end of my walk (you can join me virtually on my walk with the boys this morning on IG Stories here), and the truth that was discovered was that when I wake up early as I mentioned above, the trouble is not “what do I need to do”, the worry is “when will it unfold as I have hoped”. And in the case of the later, the life lesson to apply is patience.
Many of you who are reading this post today have clarity when it comes to what you desire regarding the construction of your life, what you value, what your priorities are (if you aren’t sure, check this post out), and when we have clarity, the decisions of what to do and what not to do come quickly. The only other skill we need is patience to let the journey unfold as it will. Because we cannot control the other actors in our story as they are in their own story as well.
The gift of travel, and there are many, but in this instance that we are talking about today, is that we see ourselves differently. We see that we can change, that we can be more at peace, we can be our most authentic or best selves. So whether you see yourself as being a different person or being who you know yourself to truly be, know that you can be that person when you return home as well, and be thankful that your trip has given you in many ways a ‘manual’ to follow to make it possible.
~View more of TSLL’s Travel posts
~View more of TSLL’s French-Inspired posts
Image: The New Yorker